The Top 5 Things You Should Tell Your Lawyer

December 5, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

(972) 369-0577

It’s common for people who’ve never been in trouble before to assume everyone knows (or will know) all the details of their case… this includes their attorney.  Try as I might, I’m just not a psychic.  There aren’t many types of cases I haven’t seen… but each case I handle is truly it’s own snowflake.

Not only is each case it’s own snowflake, but everyone has different motivating factors in decision making.  Often how we treat a case depends more on a collateral issue (such as professional licensing, a medical condition, or immigration status) as it does the actual underlying facts.  It’s too important to assume your attorney understands what truly keeps you up at night about the case.

I hope my client knows I’m not the high school principal, a policeman, or a judge.  Nothing they tell me is going cause me to treat their case anything other than professionally.

As such, today we’re discussing the 5 things you should tell your lawyer:

5.  All the facts about the case you think are important.

I want my clients to feel comfortable.  They can tell me every detail about their case or none of the details because we don’t live in a country where we must prove our own innocence. One of the problems I have in evaluating a case through only a police report, though, is police reports tend read like a soviet history book with white-washed and self-serving facts and conclusions.  Often I find a police report doesn’t support nor contradict my client’s version of events.  This shows the importance of my client’s own account to the over-all evaluation of the case.

4.  If You’ve Been in Trouble Before.

Most people have only 1 or 2 run-ins with the law during their lifetime.  If you’ve been in trouble in the past, it’s important your lawyer know this because it could dramatically effect plea negotiations and even the Prosecutor’s ability to enhance the charges against you.

3.  If You’re Citizenship Status is Anything Less than A Full Citizen.

Immigration is a hot topic in Washington.  Criminal actions can have extremely complicated and far-reaching implications for people seeking naturalization or people who may seek to apply for citizenship in the future.  Immigration issues often put people in “must-win” situations in Court.

2.  If You Have Special or Professional Licensing.

Criminal charges and professional licenses don’t mix well.  If you’ve got any type of special licensing required by your job it’s important your lawyer know so they can do everything possible to protect that licensing.  It ranges from a license to practice law, medical licensing and even commercial driver’s licenses.  Again, we’re not psychic and a criminal conviction can might only result in probation — but a loss of licensing could cause permanent damage to your livelihood.

1.  The Truth.

Having criminal charges pending against you isn’t much different from being on an operating table.  You wouldn’t lie or even shade the truth to your Doctor about where they need to cut to save your life.  Telling your lawyer something which misleads them only hurts you in the long-run.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice on any situation you should contact an attorney directly. 


Two More Dallas County DNA Exonerations

January 4, 2011

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 562-7549

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

Dallas County is expected to exonerate the longest-serving prisoner shown to be innocent through DNA evidence this week.  Cornelius Dupree Jr., and Anthony Massingill were wrongly identified by a rape victim in 1979.  You can read about it here.

Yet again we see themes common to many of these cases.  Bad eye-witness testimony, failure to presume people innocent, and and decades of indifference.  Dallas has had the single most exonerations in America.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For specific legal advice on any matter you should contact an attorney directly.


Your Right to a Speedy Trial

June 20, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Being accused of a crime sucks.

The framer’s of the constitution knew this which is why the U.S. Constitution guarantees our right to a speedy trial in the Sixth Amendment. Texas also guarantees the right to a speedy trial in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure section 1.05.

If the State violates your right to a speedy trial — the Judge can dismiss the case. Your right to a speedy trial exists on any case whether it be DWI, drugs, marijuana possession, assault, theft or other serious felonies.

Speedy trial law can be extremely complicated believe it or not. I’ll avoid they hyper-technical legalese for the sake of easy reading but you should understand in this area there are no real bright-line rules that will get a case dismissed. Rather, a denial of a right to speedy trial is viewed by the judge and the Court of Appeals on a sliding scale which give the trial judge mountains of discretion.

The seminal U.S. Supreme Court case which still serves as the corner-stone for speedy trial law is Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1971). In that case, the Supreme Court laid out four general factors as part of the court’s analysis of whether denial of the right to a speedy trial was violated. Those factors include (but aren’t limited to), (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) defendant’s assertion of their right to a speedy trial; and (4) the prejudice to the defendant.

Speedy trial issues usually arise in cases where the judge or the prosecution have continually put a case off for whatever reason — usually either witness problems or a jammed docket. Sometimes they arise where the police made an arrest and the case simply doesn’t get prosecuted over a long period of time for whatever reason (maybe the police lost the police report or some prosecutor dropped the ball).

A speedy trial issue is usually not the first-line of defense in a criminal case. In cases where there the case just never seems ready to go to trial, a good criminal defense lawyer will know how to build a steady record showing the defendant has continually been prepared to try the case and that they have been active in asserting their demand for speedy trial. This will help maximize your chance for a dismissal based on speedy trial violations.

 

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about your own specific case you should consult an attorney.

 


Computer Crimes in Texas: Online Harassment

June 13, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Laws lag behind online crimes. Society gets outraged when stories come on the news about online bullying, for example, but the truth is that the legislature naturally plays catch-up to technology.

Who knew Facebook or Twitter would become as popular as they’ve become… Much less had the foresight to know how to keep people from victimizing one another just two or three years ago?

One recent step taken by Texas is the addition of Texas Penal Code Section 33.07 which criminalizes “online harassment.” That statute was passed several legislative sessions ago and it criminalizes the creation of an account on a social networking site that not only isn’t you — but is purportedly someone else (or their persona) and was created for the express purpose to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten ANY person.

The punishment for such an offense would be a third degree felony (2-10 years TDC and/or a $10,000 fine). Similarly, it is a class A misdemeanor to send out a bogus email, text (or similar communication) purported to be from someone else that is intended to harm or defraud another person. (up to a year of county jail and/or a $4,000 fine).

The full impact of these particular Texas laws aren’t really fully understood. The main problem with criminal law as it relates to technology crimes is because the ways to commit crimes out-paces the solutions, prosecutors try to be “creative” with bending and stretching older laws that were never intended to apply to these newer problems. When prosecutors get “creative,” is when rights tend to get violated.

Computer crimes also have heavy overlapping issues with evidence rules, confession rules, and also search and seizure rules. The enactment of new codes (such as 33.07) is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for computer crime lawyers.

Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about your own specific case, you should directly consult an attorney.


The Attorney – Client Privilege

May 2, 2010

The attorney client privilege prevents an attorney from revealing confidential communications and other facts they have learned by reason of the attorney-client relationship.

For criminal cases in Texas, the attorney client privilege is controlled by Texas Rule of Evidence 503(b)(2) which is called the “special rule of privilege in criminal cases.”  That rule states, “in criminal cases, a client has a privilege to prevent the lawyer or lawyer’s representative from disclosing any other fact which came to the knowledge of the lawyer or the lawyer’s representative by reason of the attorney-client relationship.”

A confidential communication is defined by the rules as a communication “… not intended to be disclosed to third persons…”  I put the words in bold above to highlight the fact that the criminal privilege is even broader than the privilege in civil cases.  This means that the lawyer cannot reveal any communication not intended to be disclosed to third persons nor any other fact which came to the knowledge of the lawyer by reason of the attorney client relationship.

Here’s what this means in English for Texas criminal cases:  virtually everything your lawyer knows about the case (assuming he learned it from you or by investigating your case) is privileged.  The lawyer cannot be compelled by law enforcement or even a judge to disclose confidential information.  If you take the Texas rule to it’s logical extreme — even the mere fact that you visited with an attorney could be considered privileged information!  This goes for situations where you’re actually charged with a crime or even just the subject of an investigation.

The attorney-client privilege is an extremely important and powerful privilege for the reason that without it — an individual may never confide in their attorney critical information needed for their defense.  People charged with crimes can and do still feel tepid at times revealing information to their attorney.  Whether that be for lack of trust or for mere embarrassment — the law does everything possible to facilitate communication between you and your attorney.

As with practically everything in the law — there are exceptions.  An attorney may not aid the furtherance of a crime or a fraud and communications regarding the same are not privileged.  Also an attorney has an affirmative duty to report the abuse or neglect of a child or to report a situation where someone may be in immanent danger.  As a general rule, if the facts or disclosure is about something that has happened in the past in a criminal case — then it will almost always be privileged.

The attorney – client privilege is at the cornerstone of the lawyer – client relationship and is one of the fundamentals of our criminal justice system.

Jeremy F. Rosenthal, Esq.

(972) 562-7549

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For specific legal advice about your case you should directly consult an attorney.